Some sad news. Our lease at 2002 Smallman St. is up at the end of October. We had been trying to negotiate with the building owner since January as it was our intention to stay there for many years. Unfortunately the building owner insisted on a 40% rent increase, which for a nearly 2000sf space is a lot of money. When we explained that level of rent increase would not be sustainable for a specialty coffee business (margins are small), they stopped negotiating with us and instead started looking for a new tenant.
We were told they received multiple offers for the space at more than double our current rent. The asking price for us to stay moved from a 40% increase to a 100% increase. That is not something we feel comfortable doing, as we know what our business can support. We have always paid our rent (which has increased every year) and never asked for much from the building owner during our time. We thought we had a good relationship with the building owner who assured us in 2012 that when it came time to renew he wouldn’t raise our rent much. We agreed we were due for an increase, but what they asked for was so far above market rate that we were shocked.
We started our business in the Strip in March of 2006, and it already survived one move due to similar circumstances. We thought our move to 2002 Smallman would allow us to run our business in peace for many years, but it hasn’t worked out that way and it is extremely disappointing. It took years of hard work to build up our regular customer base and we are walking away from this location very reluctantly. We’ve asked the building owner for more time so we can execute a proper relocation. We weren’t making plans to leave when we learned they found a new tenant and we’re being kept in the dark.
To conclude we’re not sure if we’ll still be here November 1st. Our Downtown location at 3 PNC Plaza is doing very well and will remain open. We’re currently looking for a new space so we can move our equipment, reopen, and keep our folks working. It may not be in the Strip.
If you have a tip on a potential new home somewhere in Pittsburgh or would like to know more, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Yours in coffee,
Luke & Alexis Shaffer